B.J. Mendelson’s “Social Media Is Bullshit” is a welcome counterpoint to conventional social-media wisdom, especially for those of us who have to produce, plan or monitor social-media channels for our job. Mendelson punctures a few key social-media myths, claiming:
1. Most businesses fail to benefit financially from their presence on the Big Six social media platforms.
2. Many cases trumpeted as “viral” triumphs actually have substantial corporate budgets behind them or other extenuating circumstances.
3. Despite the promises of social media, pre-“web 2.0” marketing strategies still hold the greatest benefit for most businesses.
4. Most “social media gurus” rely more on empty platitudes than clear metrics for success.
It’s an easy read, and many of his claims are persuasive. His authorial voice may alienate some readers. He can be glib and snarky; it would be easy to argue he’s just the flip side of the “cyber hipsters” he derides. But I think there’s a lot to consider here, especially when so many so-called authorities on the subject push the other way.
‘Cyber Hispter’ refers to two different groups of people who heavily overlap and travel in the same circles. The rhetoric they spew is usually to the effect that people today have the power to do anything without resources, funding, connections, training, education and so forth.” (p. 56)
“Cyber Hipsters often argue that the cost of producing content is approaching zero…The cost of producing content has gone down, certainly. But there are now other costs you have to factor in that make it just as cumbersome and difficult to get started as it has always been. Think of it like this: Yes, anyone can make a video on the cheap…but you need a decent editor to make it look good. That means either you have to do the editing (which means taking the time to do so when you can be doing other things) or hire someone to do it for you. And anyone who knows what they’re doing won’t be cheap either. Especially because there are way more ‘creators’ than there are ‘editors.’” (p. 57)
“Well, isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? What’s the point of having a million followers when none of them are clicking on your links (they weren’t), following your calls to action (they also weren’t), and not coming out to meet you (ditto)? Isn’t that exactly the effect your “social media” efforts are supposed to have?” (p. 170)